Business does mix with pleasure: Social media goes corporate

So who hasn't checked Facebook at work, even once? No hands? Didn't think so.

To be fair, maybe you can count the number of times on one hand – and no one's judging you here, I've done it too. That's because social media has become so integrated into our personal lives, so quickly, that it has followed us to work like a stray dog – one we love so much that we don't have the heart to send away. Some studies even argue that the break we take to check Facebook (or Tweet) improves our productivity.

While you may be covering your Facebook page with your email so the boss doesn't see, it's part of some people's jobs to be on social media sites. Take Ciena's own blogger, Bo Gowan. He's also our general social media expert, and he spends much of his day monitoring our company Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. But he’s not just pushing out messages, he’s one of a growing number of people in corporate communications whose jobs include monitoring the social media landscape for conversations relevant to the business.

Unexpectedly, functions like HR find social media useful as well. Recruiters can now check your online social media profiles before they decide to hire you – making what you choose to put on the internet (whether you're on or off the clock) very important. "You can fudge your resume to try to get that dream job, but it's a lot harder to fudge who you really are with social media," said Kelly Laustrup with recruiting firm Ayava Staffing. "Especially in the ultra-competitive new-grad job market, young adults should be very mindful of what image they present of themselves online."

Not all uses for the latest and greatest in social media are appropriate for work – at the least your co-workers won't appreciate these actions (just like they wouldn't appreciate dog slobber from a friendly stray – harmless, but gross!):

  • A recent poll by Nokia looked at what mobile phone habits people found most irritating.  In “cube world” noise is always an issue – and with the many devices we have at our disposal this is no exception. Keep it down in the office – whether it’s your text alert, your conversation, or the video you’re watching.
  • A handful of other annoyances scored lower in the same poll, but have big business implications: texting mid-conversation (with the boss!), taking pictures and putting them online without permission (legal issues abound), using the phone at the dinner table (checking Facebook at a sales dinner, can you imagine?!). 

It comes down to basic manners: pay attention to what’s going on around you, unless it’s an emergency. Your social life can wait while you’re at work (but it doesn’t have to disappear). Go ahead and let that stray “dog” come to work – just don’t take him to meetings, ok?

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